"Massage can help relax the body, relax the psyche, and improve range of motion ..."
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The pain cycle is a complex chain of events, often beginning with injury or illness. As stress is added, it can further increase muscular tension over time. Muscles automatically contract around any painful site to support and protect the area. If pain is resolved quickly, muscles relax. If pain persists, muscles can become habitually contracted. Sometimes contractions press on nerves causing tingling, numbness, and more pain. Like a sponge that is squeezed, a contracted muscle can't hold much fluid. Tight muscles reduce circulation, allowing metabolic waste products from inflammation and from normal muscle function to accumulate. This can leave you feeling fatigued and sore. It can also irritate nerves causing pain to spread throughout the tense area.
Massage releases contracted muscles and pushes circulation toward the heart. As massage relaxes the nervous system, blood vessels dilate to increase blood flow. Likewise, waste products are flushed away and replaced with healing oxygen and nutrients.
When an injury is incurred to the body, the body's natural healing process is to lay down collagen fibers, which is what we call scar tissue. While this is helpful in the initial stages of healing, this also acts as natural "glue" and contributes to muscles becoming shortened. Massage can help break up scar tissue and lengthen the muscle tissue by stretching and working against the fibers, thereby increasing circulation to the injured area. Remember, blood carries vital oxygen and nutrients to heal injured tissue.
How does stress add to the problem? Our automatic response to a perceived threat is to tighten our muscles and protect. The "fight or flight" response kicks in and chemicals are released into the body. When outside stress is added to the already shortened state of a muscle from an injury, this further increases the pain cycle. Massage helps the body to slow down breathing getting proper oxygen into the blood stream, circulation increases flushing out the toxins, and the parasympathetic system (rest & repose) is stimulated and triggers the brain to release good chemicals (endorphins) into the body making you "feel good."
From the Natural Touch Marketing brochure on Massage Benefits
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